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How Patnaik Plans To Outwit Jay Panda

By Ramani Ranjan Mohapatra
May 30, 2024 08:29 IST
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What may work for the BJP is the growing resentment against V K Pandian, a bureaucrat-turned-politician who Jay Panda alleges has hijacked the Odisha government.

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party national Vice-President Baijayant 'Jay' Panda files his nomination for the Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat, May 10, 2024. Photograph: ANI/X

Nalini Kanta Mohanty and Bijoy Mohapatra -- once close aides of Biju Patnaik and stalwarts from Odisha's Kendrapara -- and Baijayant 'Jay' Panda were with Naveen Patnaik when the Biju Janata Dal was founded in 1997. Over time, Mohanty, Mohapatra, and Panda left the BJD after falling out with Patnaik.

Cut to 2024, the BJD has fielded Mohanty's son, Anshuman, as the Kendrapara Lok Sabha candidate against Panda, who is now with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Mohapatra's son Arvind is the BJD nominee from the Patkura assembly seat.

An anti-Congress seat, Kendrapara has elected the likes of Biju Patnaik, Rabi Ray, and Srikant Kumar Jena, who have become either Union ministers or the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Panda had won the seat twice when he was with the BJD in 2009 and 2014, but lost to actor-turned-politician Anubhav Mohanty in 2019 as a BJP candidate by over 150,000 votes. Anubhav has now joined the BJP.

To retain the constituency, Patnaik has made organisational changes and welcomed into his fold Opposition leaders who contested the assembly elections and whose votes added to Panda's tally in 2019.

Apart from bringing in Anshuman from the Congress (Rajnagar) and Arvind from the BJP, Patnaik has fielded Congress veteran Ganeswar Behera, who came a close second in the Kendrapara assembly seat. In the Aul assembly seat, the BJD has retained Pratap Keshari Deb, whose father Sarat Kumar Deb was once a Biju Patnaik loyalist.

"In 2019, the BJD had won all the seven assembly constituencies. Statistics are in favour of the BJD in the Lok Sabha polls," said a BJD insider.

IMAGE: Kendrapara Lok Sabha MP Anubhav Mohanty, left, joins the BJP in the presence of national General Secretary Vinod Tawde, centre, after resigning from the BJD, April 1, 2024. Photograph: Shrikant Singh/ANI Photo

What may work for the BJP is the growing resentment against V K Pandian, a bureaucrat-turned-politician who Panda alleges has hijacked the state government.

"Apart from anti-incumbency, Panda is banking on Narendra Modi's popularity," said a veteran journalist.

"Both the sitting MP Anubhav Mohanty and Panda rarely visited the constituency after the polls," said the journalist.

Kendrapara votes in the seventh phase, on June 1.

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Ramani Ranjan Mohapatra
Source: source
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024